Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/295

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HIS LIFE, POEMS AND SPEECHES

charge. O'Reilly was a true and a brave man; this I have always said of him while living, and now that he is dead I say the same without fear; for no one, in my judgment, can point his finger to a mean act that he ever did. Perhaps no one in America knew him (outside of his own immediate family) better than I. We roomed seven long months together on board the good old bark Gazelle; we had every confidence in each other, and would stake our lives for each other. The story of his escape, he often told me, was that he used to deal out provisions to the chain-gang; he never was on parole. This he told me, and it was so, for John Boyle O'Reilly never lied to me.

Yours very truly,

Henry C. Hathaway.

The other witness writes in equal indignation against the slanderers, and specifically refutes the slander itself. It is the priest, Rev. Patrick McCabe, through whose good services O'Reilly made his escape. Father McCabe is now a resident of the United States; his letter is as follows:

St. Mary, Wasseca County, Minn.,

November 19, 1890.

My Dear Mr. Roche:

I have your letter of the 6th inst. Absence from home prevented an earlier reply. John Boyle O'Reilly never broke his parole, never having one to break. From the day that he landed from the convict ship Hougoumont, in Fremantle, up to the day of his escape from Bunbury, he had been under strict surveillance, and was looked upon as a very dangerous man and treated as such. No man living knows this better than I do. Silence the vile wretch that dares to slander the name of our dear departed friend, and you will have my blessing.

Yours sincerely,

P. McCabe.

As illustrating the character of the young fugitive from British justice, I will here introduce a letter (received since the first chapters of this book went to press), written by him to an Irish paper at a time when he was in danger of recapture; and when his chief fear was lest the generous American who had befriended him might never be repaid for that kindness:

Island of Ascension, August 37, 1869.

To the Editor of the "Irishman":

Dear Sir: I doubt not that your readers will be glad to hear that one of their countrymen who had the honor to suffer for Ireland, had